Indie Writers Making History In The UK

Indie authors Mark Edwards and Louise Voss are making history in the UK.

Their second book Catch Your Death has been at the top of the Kindle charts (for all books) for over a week. To top it all off, their first novel Killing Cupid – which has been slowly creeping up behind – is now at #3!

Congratulations to Mark and Louise on a stunning achievement.

For those unaware of their background, neither of them have a history in trade publishing (like many indie authors, they couldn’t crack the system). They only self-published for the first time in February, and Catch Your Death was released in April.

Overall, they have now sold 20,000 e-books, 17,500 of those in the month of June alone. Staggering.

The vast majority of those are in the UK, where e-books have yet to reach 10% of the market. They have yet to break-out in the US, but I think it’s only a matter of time, and being able to advertise yourself as UK #1 Bestseller will only help.

In any event, it’s truly heartening to see them outselling top authors from major publishers who have huge marketing budgets behind them.

Mark has an excellent website, full of useful information. If you want to read the unusual and amusing story of how Mark and Louise began writing together, go here.


I noted yesterday that there was some controversy over an Australian minister’s comments that his country’s bookstores will be wiped out within five years.

Today, the second largest bookchain in Australia has announced the closure of almost half its stores.

There is a certain sad inevitability to this in a country where mass market paperbacks cost $20. Those prices are never going to hold up in the face of the growth in online shopping.

Of course, if bookshops virtually disappear, there is less reason to give up a huge chunk of your royalties to a trade publisher.


New York Times Bestselling writer Bob Mayer – who has sold over 1.4 million copies of his Area 51 series alone – went “indie” in 2011. He has an excellent blog, which I keep meaning to tell you about. He wrote a great article a couple of days ago about the new publishing landscape, and I recommend reading it.


The time it takes for a trade publisher to go from signing the contract to releasing the book is a sore spot for writers, but it can also lead to some non-fiction titles having inaccurate information.

As this article shows, Lonely Planet have just launched Best of Travel 2011. In the Top 10 Countries to Visit in 2011 are Japan and Syria.

Obviously, this was written before the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the subsequent problems with nuclear reactors, and before the popular uprising in Syria and the brutal crackdown by the government.

While the people in both countries may be hurting at the moment, they are both still subject to travel warnings on the State Department’s website.

Shouldn’t the e-book, at least, be updated to reflect current events?


Irishman Colum McCann won the world’s richest literary prize in the world (for a single novel) when he beat out 161 other entries to capture the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Let The Great World Spin (and the 100,000 Euro cheque).

I remember seeing this book around Christmas, and I refused to buy it because I hated the cover. My sister gave it to me as a present, and I’m glad she did – it’s excellent. If you want to read an interview with the extremely pleasant (and now considerably richer) Colum McCann, there was a piece in today’s Irish Times.


Tomorrow, I will be appearing as a guest on the Wicked & Tricksy blog, and one of their number – Margo Lerwill, author of the Norse-mythology-infused Urban Fantasy short story Diswill be appearing here in my place. I might even stop by and ask her some questions in the comments!

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

30 Replies to “Indie Writers Making History In The UK”

    1. Hey – we’re all struggling!

      Just nice to see two indies break out. I have interacted with Mark on Kindle Boards and he seems like a genuinely nice chap – fully deserving of his success.

  1. This is great information. I’m surprised by the lack of reviews (10) for a book that’s sold so many. Still, always nice to see authors succeed no matter what path they follow. It’s been added to my “to read” list!
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Steven,

      I hadn’t noticed that! I’m guessing that’s partly because the book has only been out for a couple of months. Also, I think there is less incentive to review something at the top of the charts. John Locke sold hundreds of thousands of books in the last year but his reviews only numbered in the hundreds. However, at the lower end of the charts the sale to review ratio is much closer.


  2. Another amazing success story. Dave – any educated guesses about the reasons for it? I suspect the – now deleted – subtitle “(for fans of Dan Brown and Stieg Larsson)” must have helped a lot…

    1. They stuck the simple rules for e-book success:

      *Striking cover which looks good as a thumbnail and clearly identifies genre
      *Enticing blurb
      *Great price
      *(And I would imagine) A great opening and a great book

      I’m sure the subtitle caught some people’s eye alright, but if the rest of the package wasn’t there, it wouldn’t have worked.

  3. I am so pleased for “Victorine”. What a fabulous success story and true inspiration.

    I read Bob Mayer’s post the other day. I agree. Very informative.

    And oh did I giggle over the Lonely Planet fiasco. And not in a funny way. In an “Oh my gawd that’s horrid” way.

    1. Lonely Planet. Hmmm. I remember being in Costa Rica’s capital and the LP warning that it was a dangerous city with over 500 muggings a year. Then I realised that was less than 2 a day. That’s nothing on Dublin!

      The thing is, they can’t recommend the same 10 countries every year, and usually they can write a convincing piece to back any choice. It backfired pretty badly this time! No plans to change the e-book though.

      1. That’s crazy! It’s not like ebooks can’t be changed with (relative) ease.

        And 500 muggings a year? My hometown gets that many SHOOTINGS a year. lol

        Oh, and I meant Mark and Louise, not Victorine. Gods, this is what happens when a person reads more than one webpage at a time!

    1. Well, I imagine they sell a lot of books there, so I would suspect they have a distribution center or two (I haven’t checked).

      But as for having a dedicated store, let alone officially launching the Kindle there, I would imagine it’s not as high on Amazon’s priority list as other countries. Some things would make it easy – they speak English, the two main chains are in serious trouble, and they have a stable currency, but Australia and New Zealand only have a combined population of 25 million. There are many more far larger countries that Amazon don’t have a dedicated store for yet.

        1. They have a store in the UK, Germany, France, and Italy.

          Surprisingly, they have no store in Spain, despite the Spanish language market being so huge. I would imagine that will happen soon.

          Globally, I believe there only other store outside of N. America is in Japan.

          Korea has a population of 50 million, South Africa the same, but Brazil has a population of 200 million – with a tiny network of bookstores. A lot of bookselling there is done door-to-door. India and China have over a billion each, but other factors would be holding them back there. Russia too (about 150 million).

          I would bet nearly anything that Spain will be next, and they will use that as their door into Latin America. After that, who knows. A lot will depend on competitors. I heard something about Korea, but I can’t remember if that was Kobo or someone else.

  4. Another great round of links! 🙂

    So cool to see indies standing a chance… hope to see it grow as the ereader market grows!


  5. Yeah, it’s always great and inspirational to read stories like this. 17,500 out of 20,000 books in June alone is absolutely mind blowing. It leaves the rest of us either scratching our heads or filled with hope…

    1. It is something else. Especially when you factor in the relative smallness of the UK market, and the fact that they are only around #20,000 for both books in the US. If they can have the same success in the US as the UK, you can add a zero to those numbers.

  6. Hi Dave – thanks so much for featuring. Firstly, I should point out that Louise did have some books published in the UK but it was a long time ago and hadn’t had any effect on our Kindle success. We have now sold over 21k bpols in June. I keep having to pinch myself because the last two weeks have been like a dream. It has taken 15 years of hard slog to achieve this. But we are aware it could end any minute. If anyone wants any tips please feel free to contact me and i will do my best.

    Mark 🙂

  7. Wow, Dave, you’ve been cranking out the posts this week. Good job. Thanks for all the inspiring stories and useful info for your fellow writers out here.

    1. It follows a huge cast of diverse characters in New York in 1974. The link between all of them is Philipp Petit’s highwire walk between the Twin Towers. There’s a Jewish couple in Upper Manhattan. The husband is a judge who ends up facing Petit in court, and his wife is grief-stricken over the loss of their son in Vietnam. There’s two Irish brothers – one fresh off the boat trying his luck in the States, and the other a radical monk who ministers to transvestites, junkies, and prostitutes in the Bronx. There’s an artistic couple whose marriage is disintegrating. And there lives all become linked in one way or another through this tightrope walk.

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